Yesterday the DfE published the most detailed explanation of the Teacher Supply Model (TSM) that underpins decisions about how many new entrants to the teaching profession are needed each year. The new document is the most detailed any government has released to the general public in almost a quarter of a century. Unlike previous publications, this new one is interactive and allows interested parties to interrogate the assumptions used within the Model. It also provides forward assumptions into the 2020s for teacher supply needs. Anyone interested can find the manual and accompanying spreadsheets at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/teacher-supply-model
The publication came about as a result of an exchange between David Laws, the Minister of State, and the Education Select Committee during one of their hearings into the issue of teacher supply and training. The Minister agreed to make the Model public and has now made good on his promise. The document is not an easy read, but the general principles are relatively easy to grasp for anyone interested in how the DfE works out the number of teachers required to enter teacher preparation programmes each year. I am sure that there will now be an informed debate on the subject
I am delighted that the current version of the TSM has reverted to calculating separate numbers for all the main curriculum subjects in secondary schools rather than just the EBacc curriculum areas with other lumped together in a composite pool.
The new Model has been used to calculate the ITT allocations for 2015 that were also announced yesterday. (More about them in another post) The good news is that the allocation for English has increased substantially. I had been puzzled, as I think had been others, about why the previous allocation figure was so far adrift of that for mathematics when both took up approximately the same amount of curriculum time in schools. That issue has been rectified for 2015 and will no doubt be welcomed by head teachers that have struggled to recruit teachers of English.
Although the data are somewhat daunting at first glance they do help those that take the time to work through them understand the potential implications of the growth in the school population over the next decade. Teaching is probably going to be a recession-proof occupation for at least the next 20 years in most parts of the country. However, that does mean that the Model shows the continuing need to recruit large numbers of new entrants to the profession. What the Model doesn’t do is identify what happens if recruitment to training falls short of target for a number of years. One solution would be to add in the shortfall to future targets, but that can inflate targets to unsustainable numbers. Such a process also doesn’t take into account of the fact that schools must cover lessons and do so be using various recruitment methods, including in the past hiring teachers from overseas.
In previous versions of the Model changes from year to year were subject to a smoothing process. That prevented too large a change from one year to the next for the benefit of providers of teacher training. That seems to have been removed. The solution still seems to be to over-allocate numbers, so that the risk at the end of the course still lies completely with the trainee that has to find a teaching post. Solving that concern is not something the TSM can do.